Oregon shrubbery harasser

April 21, 2010

I am on a business trip and after I checked into my hotel this evening, I went for a run. I like going running new places. I was on a dead end street off of a busy one when I heard a man’s voice, “Hey girl, run girl, yeah you better run girl!” Then in an increasingly aggressive and louder tone of voice, he started yelling, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!”

My heart started pounding. It was an otherwise deserted area and a location unfamiliar to me. I turned around to see who he was and maybe confront him, but he was hidden from view behind shrubbery. As his aggressive tone sunk in a bit more, I felt frightened and I sprinted back to the main road and made my way back to my hotel, trying not to cry.

It may not sound like that big of a deal, but it’s really shaken me up, especially since I am now in an empty hotel room in a new state across the country from where I live. This incident has made me feel vulnerable as a woman out in public on her own and that makes me really mad. I have every right to be in public and not be harassed and frightened! I’m not going to cower and hide and not go for a run or travel by myself but in this society, I know that comes with a risk of being harassed or assaulted by scary, disrespectful men 😦 It makes me so ANGRY!

Shrubbery where the harasser's voice was coming from

Anyway, I drove back there in my rental car and took a quick picture from my window. It’s only of bushes, but it marks the spot.

When will women be safe?


Location: Clay Street SW, Wilsonville, OR

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

I’m Not Your Tasty Doughnut!

March 9, 2010

So my number finally came up. I phoned in last night and had to report for jury duty this morning. The court house is a mile and a half away from where I live. Spring has come to NYC so I decided last night I would walk rather than pay for a cab. I dressed in a skirt and blazer and dress shoes and knee length black leggings. I am eternally late. I was this morning. But I still didn’t want to take a cab, so with backpack full of laptop and reading materials I headed out onto the street in the warm morning sunshine and ran the mile and a half to the court house.

I got honked at twice. A man walking toward me, paused and looked me up and down like I was a tasty doughnut. On one busy corner the talk and hum and conversations of a group of day workers halted as I ran past them, all of them staring at me like I was a moving parade.

Yes, I was unusual–a woman dressed in a suit, carrying a large backpack and running down a city street. But I tried to think of a man, perhaps my husband dressed in his business suit, carrying a briefcase, running down the same streets. Would women driving by honk at him? Would women on the street that he ran past look him up and down like he was breakfast? Would women gathered at a corner stop their talk and stare at him simply because he was running by?

I am sorry to say that when the second person honked at me when I was only steps away from the court house, I did something I have only done once before in my 51 years of life. I lifted my third finger at the car.

I am so tired of men thinking that this behavior is okay. But was I shocked or surprised. No. Sadly its what I expect.

– Beckie

Location: Queens, New York

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

Runner Murdered in Vancouver Park

April 16, 2009

The absolute worst outcome of street harassment is murder.

ladner-beaudryPolice aren’t entirely sure if the murder of a 53 year old woman named Wendy Ladner-Beaudry who was running in Vancouver was random (form of street harassment) or targeted. But chances are, the fact that she was a woman running alone in a park made her assailant feel more able to or justified in attacking her…

A fellow woman runner wrote a poignant article in the Vancouver Sun about Wendy”s tragic murder and what that means to her as a female runner in that area. Excerpt:

“I know there is truth that random acts can happen anywhere at any time and that I should not be stymied and let cowardly predators win. I know this. I also know my husband will not change his habits when he runs in the park. His gender gives him the freedom to go alone at any time of the day.

This loss of a runner-in-arms has inspired fear. This loss of freedom I reluctantly accept because I love living more than I love running.

I will get a whistle. And I will purchase them for my running buddies.

I will go running this weekend with my girlfriends in the park.

I will not go in those woods alone to run.

My ears will prickle when I am there. Listening for a predator.

I will hear the woodpecker on Sasamat trail because I will not have my iPod.

I will look at the guests in the park with a keen eye.

I will not go at dawn or dusk.”

Just like the attack on a female runner in New York City earlier this year, the attacker hasn’t been found, so that certainly would add to my fear were I a runner in that area. It’s very difficult to make sense out of a tragedy like this and hard not to want to recoil in reaction and self preservation. And I think she’s right, her husband and other men probably will not alter their lives, but women runners may – if they weren’t already making such alterations – out of fear of being the wrong woman at the wrong place at the wrong time. What a shame.

Update: I found another article with more info about Wendy, including an interview with her husband:

“As well as being a high-performance athlete most of her life, Beaudry said, his wife was a dedicated volunteer, helping women at a local food bank get running shoes so they could participate in an annual charity run.

He said his wife made daily solo runs in Pacific Spirit Park.

‘She always went in there knowing she was a woman and had to be careful, and that there were risks. This was not someone who went into anything blindly.’

His wife would have been the first one to organize a run in the park after such a killing to show her lack of intimidation, Beaudry said.”

Attacked While Jogging

January 6, 2009

The New York Times reports that a woman was jogging in a park in NYC on Sunday when a man slashed her forehead with a knife and then walked away. It sounds like she went into shock and then was taken to the hospital. No one saw the attack happen and the assailant is still at large.

What a horrific experience! And all it takes is one attack like that to scare other women from going to that park or going running alone, especially since he hasn’t been caught yet. To naysayers, street harassment can be very insidious and does impact women – directly and indirectly – in the choices they make.

Also worth noting, women are much more likely to be attacked or hurt by someone they know (not true for men), but, random acts of violence against women by strangers in public like this obviously happen. The randomness does a great job of scaring women into trying to avoid places they think they will be more vulnerable (when in actuality, many of them are safer on the street than in their own home).

Will women who read this story be advised by concerned friends & family to not run alone or decide themselves not to go running alone? Probably. Will any men be advised or feel the need not to go running alone because of this story? Probably not, yet statistically, they’re more at risk of stranger attacks than women. Funny, huh?

Anyway, I hope the woman who was attacked will be okay and that the  man will not attack anyone else!

Street harassment flashback shocks me

October 20, 2008

On the Shakesville blog, people are answering the question: “In what ways has the idea of sexual assault and/or street harassment affected your daily movements?” The question was posed on Saturday and already there are over 400 responses. Since this is exactly one of the topics I want to discuss in a book I plan to write on street harassment, I was thrilled and I have been eagerly reading through the posts. It never ceases to amaze me how much our lives are impacted by street harassment.

I was part-way through reading a post by FriedaK about getting followed by a guy in a car as she walked home from a night shift at work when I had a flashback to a street harassment incident I had completely forgotten about. Over a year ago when I first began researching street harassment, I wrote down all of the “major” incidents I could recall but I didn’t remember this one.

In this incident I was either 14 or 15 years old and I was running a 6 mile loop through the streets near my house in Pacific Palisades, CA. I think it was a Saturday morning. I ran up Sunset Blvd and then cut up into a very affluent neighborhood because they had a large hill I liked running up. I’d run this route many times.  This day, I was part-way up the hill (and about 2.25 miles into my run) when a man in a car started driving slowly beside me. My heart quickened but I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was probably looking for a certain house, etc. Still, I increased my pace.

I ran about another 3/4th of a mile with him still beside me and I was getting more nervous each second. There was no one on the street and most of the houses had big security gates and looked very intimidating and I didn’t really see running up to one of them for help as a viable solution. By that point, he’d been beside me long enough that I worried that he was up to no good. I was too freaked out to look at him and so I just pretended I didn’t notice him and wasn’t bothered. I reached the peak of the hill and as soon as I saw a side street, I sprinted down it and kept going full speed, weaving in and out of side streets until I reached Sunset Boulevard, a well populated street.

I didn’t see him again during the run but I was really shook up. I’d been running alone for a few years at that point and I had generally always felt safe (though not enough to run at night) and it was a big shock to not feel safe anymore. My mom bought mace for me to carry around that time and I can’t remember if it was in response to that incident or not.

Compared to so many women whose stories I’ve read, this incident is nothing. I wasn’t assaulted, raped, attacked, nor did I even have anything offensive or threatening yelled at me. He may not have been following me at all. I will never know. But I do know it was very real to me at the time and in the few minutes since I remembered it happening, I have felt shaky and scared just thinking about it. It’s surprises me that I forgot about this incident and that remembering it has upset me so much.